This week I spent some time doing what trout fishers like me do when the days begin to warm but it is still two months until trout season opens.  I spent a pleasant afternoon thinking about wild waters full of wild trout.  My memory could have gone to many different places and moments since I have been chasing trout for over fifty years now.  It settled not on a safely-netted trophy, but on likely the biggest brown trout I never caught.

I recalled that fateful late September day when, as I rounded a bend in a favorite stream, I saw that a large dead elm had fallen across the water.  I have caught large trout in this river before.  In fact, just the year before this trip I had landed a 20.5-inch brown trout which to date is the largest trout I have ever caught.  I figured that something large would be lurking in the deep water around that fallen tree.  The banks were very steep and I suspected that the water ahead was too deep for wading, so I climbed the ten feet up to the top of the bank intending to walk around the deadfall and fish it from the upstream side.  I didn’t want to spook any fish, so I stayed away from the edge of the bank for the most part.  Curiosity though, overpowered me and I took just one peek over the blooming goldenrods.

There, just downstream from the main trunk of the dead elm, and right in between the “V” formed by the two large branches jutting off from the main trunk at forty-five-degree angles, a huge brown trout was finning lazily in the slowed current.  I guessed the bruiser at about 25-26 inches.  I looked up ahead and noticed that about 75 yards upstream the water was a gurgling over a gravel bar.  Simple.  I would stay out of sight on top of the bank until that point, then I would cross the stream at that gravel bar where the water would be shallow, and carefully creep back down the opposite bank where there was a flat spot to stand on within easy casting distance of that big trout.  He was as good as mine.

Well, the plan worked perfectly until I got to that casting spot.  It seemed like I could cast just a few feet short of the submerged tree trunk and then feed out line to allow my nymph to sink and then drift under the tree and into the feeding zone of that big brown.  I sent out my first cast, saw the fly sink as planned, but then I saw the line swirl instead of feed out downstream.  Each and every cast, as I tried to drift my nymph into that hole and in front of that monster fish I found that the way the deadfall and the current interacted it caused a slow swirling eddy just ahead of the main tree trunk that carried my fly away from the trout and into the silty fishless shallows.  I spent thirty minutes and tried every cast and trick I knew but I could not get the fly to drift anywhere near that fish.  Finally, I left him there, still finning lazily, blissfully unaware of my presence.

The next day I fished the same stretch of stream, and once again climbed the steep bank ahead of the deadfall elm.  I crept up to the edge and peered over.  Sure enough, the big brown was there.  This time though I watched him for a while and then continued upstream, crossed at the gravel bar and kept right on going.  I knew that fish was uncatchable.  There was no sense in putting my nerves through that again!

The following year I found that someone had taken a chainsaw to the fallen elm and removed it altogether.  I'm pretty sure that whoever did it was protecting the environment for trout as that hole around the big elm would have eventually silted in.  Still, a part of me wonders if the landowner hadn't gotten completely frustrated trying to catch that big trout.  

You too, can be uncatchable.  Lazily finning in the current of this world.  But our God is not like that big trout.  He is not uncatchable.  In fact, all you need to do is to desire to find him and he will come searching you out.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan             

Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash